If you have COPD, you are far from alone: an estimated 3.7 million UK residents live with the condition. COPD can be challenging at times, so a relaxing holiday may prove to be just what you need. Unfortunately, however, finding the right travel insurance can be a challenge in itself. Some travel insurers will charge excessive amounts to provide cover for COPD – whilst other insurers may even refuse altogether.
We think the situation can and needs to be improved, which is why we formed our Travel Insurance for People with COPD group. The remainder of this article explores why the situation exists today and how insurers approach the issue, as well as offering some useful advice to help you get the most out of the holiday itself and the travel insurance you need.
COPD and Travel Insurance
If you have COPD and are planning a holiday which requires you to fly, go to your GP for a fitness-to-fly assessment. This involves checking your breathing using spirometry and measuring your oxygen levels. In addition to being the sensible thing to do, some insurance companies may require proof from your doctor that you are fit to travel before they offer you insurance cover.
There are many other things that you can do to make your trip as easy and enjoyable as possible. The British Lung Foundation have some excellent information and advice on their website here.
Why does travel insurance for people with COPD cost more?
The reason is simple, though not necessarily fair: insurers anticipate that the likelihood of a claim being made by someone who already suffers from a medical issue is much higher than for a healthy person. And the more likely they believe you are to make a claim, the higher the cost of the insurance.
Insurers are mostly worried about having to pay the costs of any medical treatment that you need to receive whilst on holiday; and those costs may also vary based on where you are going (we give more information on this further below).
Do I have to tell the Insurance Company about my condition?
Yes, this is important. It is your responsibility to declare your COPD (and any other medical conditions) to your travel insurance company. If you don’t, you may find that your insurance is invalid, or that you encounter problems when you need to make a claim.
See this article more information on the importance of declaring medical conditions.
What questions will the insurance company ask me?
Once you have declared your COPD, your insurer will probably need to ask you some questions, to find out more about your condition. These might include:
• How many medicines do you take for COPD?
• How many hospital admissions have you had for your respiratory condition in the last year?
• Have you needed treatment in an intensive care unit for this condition?
• Can you always walk 200yds on the flat without becoming short of breath?
• Have you ever been prescribed oxygen for use at home?
• Have you ever been a smoker?
Will my choice of holiday destination affect the price of insurance?
It’s always a good idea to tell your insurer exactly where you are going. If you only declare general, non-specific information such as “Europe”, your insurer will assume the highest potential cost within that region. (When it comes to medication and treatment, the costs vary significantly between different European countries).
Also, be aware that some regions outside Europe are particularly expensive – not least the USA, Canada and the Caribbean. Holidays on Cruise Ships are also seen as having a very high potential cost, because their on-board medical teams are not usually equipped to deal with the more serious health problems, and so may have to airlift people to the nearest hospital.